Creative Practice As Mutual Recovery: Connecting Communities for Mental Health and Well-Being
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Has principal investigator Paul Crawford
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Impact This project has a potentially wide impact on public engagement and academic research. The principal beneficiaries of these impacts may be divided into three key groups: 1. Policy-makers: The project is designed to bring together diverse communities of arts and humanities and social and health sciences scholars, service user and carer representatives, and health, social care and education personnel, to respond to contemporary anxieties about mental health in the UK. As such, it is anticipated that research findings generated by the project will stimulate and inform mental health and social care debate, particularly as it relates to the development of policies that advance: a. less-centralised resources for responding to the mental health and well-being agenda; b. more co-operative, open and permeable interfaces between diverse social actors and communities of practice in the field of mental health. Linked to this it will contribute to debate and provide important evidence regarding the heightened priority put upon public mental health promotion and addressing the social causes of mental health problems in England (i.e. concerns with mental health inequalities) and the fact that currently this remains inadequately reflected in statutory approaches to mental health service provision. 2. Health, social care and education providers: The project will also be of interest to health, social care, education, and community arts organizations involved in mental health work and the promotion of more connected and self-caring communities. The interdisciplinary approach and methodology of the project aligns it with the emerging field of health humanities, in this case through a combination of visual arts, performing arts, literature/narrative, philosophy, history, sociology, anthropology, linguistics, psychology, psychiatry, social care, nursing, and public health. In particular, it will afford knowledge dissemination benefits with regard to the ways in which these fields animate one another. It is hoped that the research findings may ultimately inform organisational culture and practices within both NHS and private health, social care, education and community-based initiatives and, potentially, suggest increased effectiveness of public health services and/or reduced costs of NHS patient care. 3. Members of the public: We envisage potential social benefits for people with mental health difficulties, informal carers and the general public more broadly, these emanating primarily from the impact of the research on public awareness and understanding of issues pertaining to mutuality and creativity in mental health recovery. The research will produce outputs which will be public resources and the project will provide opportunities for public engagement about this important issue, educating individuals (who may also be potential users of mental health provisioning) about the investment taking place to support work in this area. It is envisaged that the project will generate public contribution to debate about ways to tackle societal challenges in the area of mental health and wellbeing, and ways of achieving more egalitarian and inclusive connections between and within communities in the field of mental health. We aim to inform attitudes to and/or beliefs about the feasibility of creative practice as mutual recovery being a possible solution to the failure of biomedical and psychiatric approaches to date to improve the mental health of the nation and to empower communities and individuals to deploy greater agency in their own mental health and well-being. In addition, it is hoped that the project will produce important social benefits in enhancing public, policy and practitioner understandings of new approaches to connecting communities for mental health and well-being and in effecting positive changes in mental health policy and in organisational, practitioner and public attitudes and behaviour.
Status Active
Identifier AH/K003364/1
abstract This highly collaborative study aims to examine how creative practice in the arts and humanities can promote the kinds of connectedness and reciprocity that support 'mutual recovery' in terms of mental health and well-being. The idea of 'mutual recovery' extends more inclusively out of the increasingly influential notion of 'recovery' in mental health care which refers to the possibility of achieving a meaningful, more resilient and self-reliant life irrespective of mental health 'symptoms' or disabilities. Typically, however, recovery-based initiatives tend to focus exclusively on people identified as having mental health needs (service users) and overlook how hard-pressed informal carers and health, social care and adult education personnel working in this field may also need to 'recover' or be 'recovered' in terms of their own mental health and well-being. Our central hypothesis is that creative practice could be a powerful tool for bringing together this diverse range of social actors and communities of practice, to establish and connect them in a mutual or reciprocal fashion to enhance mental health and well-being. Such an approach is congruent with 'the new wave of mutuality' identified by Murray (2012), marked by 'renewed interest in co-operation' (p.1), enhancing connections and sharing between distinct or separate groups of people or institutions and 'different ways of involving users, communities and workers' (p.7). Arts and expressive therapies are well-established in mental health services and creative practice (e.g. in visual arts, music, drama, storytelling and so on) has demonstrable potential for a role in advancing mutual recovery in this context. Research has already demonstrated the importance of the arts for 'recovery orientated mental health services', how they provide ways of breaking down social barriers, of expressing and understanding experiences and emotions, and of helping to rebuild identities and communities. With a growing burden of mental ill-health combined with rising costs for the delivery of services, it is timely to investigate how people with mental health needs, informal carers and health, social care and adult education personnel can take new opportunities to build mutually appreciative and substantively connected communities - resilient communities of mutual hope, trust, compassion, equality and solidarity. This five-year study will add a new dimension to existing AHRC-funded health humanities projects. Its substantive arts and humanities led programme of work packages incorporate a social sciences evaluative layer that seeks to advance transformative impacts in policy, provision and practice. Acting as a 'beacon', it will link researchers in the arts and humanities, social and health sciences and third and statutory sector organisations supporting people with mental health needs, in order to generate new forms of social and cultural connectedness that can facilitate mental health recovery. Consistent with the Connected Communities ethos, central themes in this research are the contribution of shared community values and participation to this mutual recovery agenda and the ways in which self-reliance and resilience can be 'co-produced' to support mental health and well-being in community settings. Hence, this ambitious, multidisciplinary research programme will address the AHRC Connected Communities vision through establishing new connections between academic and partner communities in order to enhance research participation, prosperity, sustainability, and health & well-being.
Type Project
Label Creative Practice As Mutual Recovery: Connecting Communities for Mental Health and Well-Being
Title Creative Practice As Mutual Recovery: Connecting Communities for Mental Health and Well-Being

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